hun·​ger | \ ˈhəŋ-gər How to pronounce hunger (audio) \

Definition of hunger

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a craving or urgent need for food or a specific nutrient
b : an uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food The small meal wasn't enough to satisfy his hunger.
c : a weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food died of hunger
2 : a strong desire : craving a hunger for success
from hunger
: very bad or inept the jokes were from hunger— Mordecai Richler


hungered; hungering\ ˈhəŋ-​g(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce hungering (audio) \

Definition of hunger (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to feel or suffer hunger (see hunger entry 1) feasting while the poor hunger
2 : to have an eager desire The nation hungers for a strong leader.

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Synonyms & Antonyms for hunger

Synonyms: Noun

appetite, belly, emptiness, famishment, munchies, stomach

Antonyms: Noun


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Choose the Right Synonym for hunger


long, yearn, hanker, pine, hunger, thirst mean to have a strong desire for something. long implies a wishing with one's whole heart and often a striving to attain. longed for some rest yearn suggests an eager, restless, or painful longing. yearned for a stage career hanker suggests the uneasy promptings of unsatisfied appetite or desire. always hankering for money pine implies a languishing or a fruitless longing for what is impossible. pined for a lost love hunger and thirst imply an insistent or impatient craving or a compelling need. hungered for a business of his own thirsted for power

Examples of hunger in a Sentence


She has been a leader in the fight against world hunger. One sandwich wasn't enough to satisfy his hunger. Her students have a genuine hunger for knowledge.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

To save the world from hunger, obesity, disease and other problems, a combination of approaches is the answer. Amanda Little, Washington Post, "What We'll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World," 30 Aug. 2019 The crowding in the detention centers is self-evident, and the physical and emotional conditions that migrants endure there and on their journeys—hunger, dehydration, filth, stress, sleep deprivation, and anguish—are known immunological dampers. Wired, "Why Denying Migrants Flu Shots Is a Dangerous, Foolish Move," 28 Aug. 2019 One study that provided volunteers with a mid-morning snack of yogurt with and without chia seeds found that the addition of the seeds resulted in lower post-snack hunger, as well as a decreased desire for sugary foods. Cynthia Sass, Mph,, "7 Chia Seed Benefits, According to a Nutritionist," 27 Aug. 2019 His needs are more primitive, an infantile hunger for approval, and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied. David Remnick, The New Yorker, "Trump Clarification Syndrome," 23 Aug. 2019 About 265,000 children will lose access to free school meals as part of the cuts, according to an analysis from the anti-hunger group Share Our Strength. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "70 mayors tell Trump that cutting food stamps will "harm our economy"," 21 Aug. 2019 Aid agencies and others say 24.1 million people out of a population of 28 million require some form of help, with about 10 million suffering from extreme hunger. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, "As top allies scale back in Yemen, Saudi Arabia faces prospect of an unwinnable war," 11 Aug. 2019 An early winter had set in by November, and the ragged remains of the French army straggled back toward home, with thousands dying from cold, hunger and disease. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Remains of Napoleonic General Believed to Have Been Found in Russian Park," 12 July 2019 Mao’s time in power was marked by political and economic upheaval, such as the Great Leap Forward industrialization project that is estimated by some historians to have killed 45 million Chinese people from hunger. Jane Li, Quartz, "China is cracking down on podcasts for this surprising reason," 2 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This was the era when artists started to forsake aristocratic and institutional patronage—bucking the bias of the annual Salon while hungering for inclusion in it—in favor of support from a burgeoning middle class. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "Renoir’s Problem Nudes," 19 Aug. 2019 But the Yankees' starting pitching has stumbled in the past week, leading them to consider deals for starters and relievers with teams hungering for top young players such as Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andújar, Clint Frazier and Deivi Garcia. Ronald Blum,, "Arms race ahead of MLB trade window shutting Wednesday," 30 July 2019 Michael Cotlick, a lawyer for Mr. Berezovsky, said Mr. Glushkov hungered for another company to manage. Alan Cullison, WSJ, "A Trio of Wealthy Russians Made an Enemy of Putin. Now They’re All Dead.," 10 Oct. 2018 Sadly, his abusive behavior belies a fundamental corruption that hungers for power and servitude. Catherine Pilfrey, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: A call for resignations and change at Shambhala — the Boulder-born Buddhist organization," 26 July 2019 Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: Now, all of a sudden, there’s a border crisis?," 17 July 2019 Stranger Things 3 debuted on July 4, which means the bingers are already hungering to know what comes next. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "'Stranger Things' Season 4 Will Tie up Loose Ends, but Feel Very Different," 10 July 2019 The liberal sees his virtue in speaking up for the underdog, hungering for social justice, showing a spirit of empathy. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "There’s Too Much Virtue in Politics," 31 July 2018 The serial worrier in me can’t resist issuing a stern caution to those who hunger for the modern-day Transaction Game as much as (or more than) the game itself. Marc Stein, New York Times, "The N.B.A. Has the Hottest Stove. LeBron James Is the Flame.," 30 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hunger.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hunger


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for hunger

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English hungor; akin to Old High German hungar hunger, Lithuanian kanka torture

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Statistics for hunger

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for hunger

The first known use of hunger was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for hunger



English Language Learners Definition of hunger

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a very great need for food : a severe lack of food
: an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach that is caused by the need for food
: a strong desire : a strong desire for something or to do something



English Language Learners Definition of hunger (Entry 2 of 2)

literary : to have or feel a strong desire


hun·​ger | \ ˈhəŋ-gər How to pronounce hunger (audio) \

Kids Definition of hunger

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a desire or a need for food
2 : a strong desire a hunger for knowledge


hungered; hungering

Kids Definition of hunger (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to feel a desire or need for food
2 : to have a strong desire He hungered to return home.


hun·​ger | \ ˈhəŋ-gər How to pronounce hunger (audio) \

Medical Definition of hunger

1 : a craving, desire, or urgent need for food
2 : an uneasy sensation occasioned normally by the lack of food and resulting directly from stimulation of the sensory nerves of the stomach by the contraction and churning movement of the empty stomach
3 : a weakened disordered condition brought about by prolonged lack of food die of hunger

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More from Merriam-Webster on hunger

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hunger

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hunger

Spanish Central: Translation of hunger

Nglish: Translation of hunger for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hunger for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about hunger

Comments on hunger

What made you want to look up hunger? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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